coffins draped with the Stars and Stripes.

It’s the video for ‘Born Dead’. the title track of Body Count’s new album. And. okay. no one’s calling this The Battles/zip Potent/(in. Still. considering the living brain-death of 99 per cent of promo videos. Body Count the hardcore band Ice T reportedly formed so that his guitar- toting high-school chum Ernie C. could play in a group where he wasn’t required to wear Spandex - deserve credit for using a rancid medium to convey their message. Shame hardly anyone’s going to see it. They‘ve never exactly been MTV’s best friends. (‘You change this and change that and then the same video show will pop up and go “Let’s fight for free speech”.’ lce grumbles.)

At least. with two years of touring behind them and a second album in the can. Body Count are being accepted on something approaching their own terms. ‘We made it into the class of the rock ‘n‘ roll people last year.’ lce tells me. ‘They stopped calling us “a black rock band".’

The furore that surrounded the band’s debut album is now part of American folklore. It was the record that contained ‘Cop Killer‘. arguably the most controversial song ever released in America. Body Count shifted a million units and took Ice T to Number Two in a chart he hadn’t counted on: the FBl’s National Threat list. When employees at Time-Warner. the parent company of the record label on which it was released. started to receive death threats. lce decided enough was enough and withdrew the track from the album.

‘l’ve listened to some of the girls rapping, and it you listen to Salt ’n’ Pepa, they’re sexist. But it’s like a one- way thing: women can’t he sexist. It’s ridiculous. It’s like saying black people can’t be racist. Black people can be racist. I hold my ground.’

Body Count are now on Virgin who. according to lee. void their contract the moment the band smell censorship and the repercussions of ‘Cop Killer" have all but died down. ‘But us and the cops will always be at odds for life. Whenever we go to play a venue. it’s “Are they gonna do that song?" Forever. That’s a part of our group. man. Even in LA. to do a gig we gotta deal with all the cops and are we gonna play that song and . . . bullshit. But it’s all right. it ain’t gonna stop us.’

Nor is he expecting similar controversy with Born Dead, an album of more ‘global’ anger than the first.

‘I think all that controversy was timinU.’ he says. ‘l’m listening to records continuously. every day. and I’m hearing wilder shit than I ever said. The bad thing about controversy is that people seem to think that controversy helps you. But to me it doesn‘t. because it makes people think I want it. and that makes me seem clzeesy.’

This year. as an extension of the lectures he’s been giving across the States, Ice T brought out a book. The Ice Opinion. to try to clear up misconceptions about himselfand his views. It’s a perceptive and funny chunk of common sense written by a man who knows what it takes to survive at the bottom of the heap.

Every chapter concluding with the disclaimer ‘That’s my opinion on [fill in the blank]. who

gives a fuck’. The Ice Opinion roves through his feelings about crime. race. politics. rap. religion Ice is a founding member of the non-racist. non-monogamous One Percent Nation. who recognise no intermediary between themselves and God and regard sex as their holy sacrament and (you knew we’d get there eventually) his alleged sexism. The word ‘bitch‘. a term he uses abundantly. is. ‘from the ghetto perspective . . . a non-gender-specitic slang term for anyone who thinks the world revolves around them. It can also be used as a term of endearment.’

Try telling that to the women sweepingly pigeonholed ‘feminists‘ who challenge him for such stuff. He does. ‘l‘ve talked to more feminists than most feminists have.‘ But what does he say to them?

‘Usually. when you use the word -ist.‘ he begins. though he’d been the one to bring the word up. ‘that has to do with being fanatical: racist. sexist. So a lot oftimes people are beyond rationality when they go into these -ist things. I basically deal with them like I deal with it in the book. I say. “Hey. look. I‘m a man. I‘m into sex” and that’sjust simply that. and women are into sex too. but if youjust want to live in a state of denial . . . y‘know? But I deal with .s'm'ua/itv. and if I look at a girl and she’s line. I wanna fuck. And that’sjust nature.’

‘If I was out to abuse women and destroy them. that’s wrong. But I’m not. Sexism is saying. “I disrespect women from the bottom up. they are less than me.“ It’s something deeper than saying. “I enjoy looking at a girl in a mini- skirt".’

Warming to his theme. he announces. ‘l’ve listened to some of the girls rapping. and if you listen to Salt ’n’ Pepa, they're sexist. But it‘s like a one—way thing: women can‘t be sexist. It‘s ridiculous. It’s like saying black people can’t be racist. Black people can be racist. I hold my ground.’

There’s a lot to like about Ice T. l-{e invented gangsta rap. but he doesn't glorify crime (he‘s


Bodycount in the house

got too many friends in the slammer for that. and knows but for the grace of God he could have been in there himself). he has no time for separatists or racists. lle‘s willing to admit he could be completely wrong. and is prepared to change his mind about things to the extent that he marched alongside representatives of Queer Nation during the LA riots. which once would have been unthinkable. And at the same time. he’ll brand women who challenge him with the -ist word and make pronouncements like ‘ls a woman oppressed? They got half the money and all the pussy’. as he did to NMl:"s Steven Wells. Tongue in cheek? Who knows? But it doesn’t all add up. Yet. I’m hoping it will.

That‘s my opinion on Ice T. who gives a fuck? Ll Body Count play The Barrow/(1nd. Glasgow on Sun 2.

It looks could kill...

The List 23 September-b ()ctober l‘)‘)4 9